Baffert Charts Path To Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile For Pat O’Brien Winner Laurel River; Runner-Up American Theorem To Aim For Sprint - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Baffert Charts Path To Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile For Pat O’Brien Winner Laurel River; Runner-Up American Theorem To Aim For Sprint

Laurel River and jockey Juan Hernandez win the G2 Pat O’Brien at Del Mar

“That was exciting,” trainer Bob Baffert exclaimed soon after Laurel River ran off with a 3 ¾ length victory in the Pat O'Brien (G2) Saturday at Del Mar.

Baffert said Sunday the 4-year-old Into Mischief colt came out of the race in good order and will be pointed to Awesome Again (G1) October 1 at Santa Anita.

“I was honestly thinking about running him in the Pacific Classic (G1),” Baffert said, “but I would only do it if Flightline wasn't in the race.”

Laurel River came into Pat O'Brien off of a solid allowance win on July 31 at Del Mar. Before that, he had not run since the end of last summer's meet at Del Mar.

“I gotta give a lot of credit to the Juddmonte family and Garrett O'Rourke for letting me keep this horse during all the turmoil we went through. I think he's a really good horse. He needed the extra time, we gave him the extra time, then we got that race into him.”

With the win in the Pat O'Brien, Laurel River secured a spot in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Keeneland on November 5, which Baffert believes is right in the horse's wheelhouse.

“He's going to be much more effective going two turns,” Baffert said.

The Pat O'Brien favorite, Speaker's Corner, looked the part through much of the race. He broke well and had a good position, setting a forced pace. But when confronted by Laurel River at the top of the lane, he had no answer and eventually faded to fourth. Amy Mullin, assistant trainer to Bill Mott, says they have no excuses.

“I'm not sure, he was really relaxed in the post parade,” Mullin said, “but it seemed like once he got to the gate he got real tense and difficult in the gate and that might of taken off the edge that he needed and didn't have.”

Speaker's Corner shipped in from the East Coast for the O'Brien, but Mullin doesn't think the travel had anything to do with the performance.

“He was training well and behaving good,” Mullin said.

She said Speaker's Corner came out of the race well. They'll fly him back to New York on Tuesday and the Mott team will then sit down and decide what to do next with the 4-year-old son of Street Sense.

The runner-up in the Pat O'Brien, American Theorem, also came out of the race no worse for wear.

“He ran huge, we just got beat,” trainer George Papaprodromou said. “He (Laurel River) got the jump on us. He went through the rail, we had to go a little wider but my horse ran his race. I'm happy with it and most important he came back good.”

Papaprodromou said he will train American Theorem up to the Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1), to which he earned an automatic berth with his victory in the Bing Crosby (G1) at Del Mar on opening weekend.

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